Inspiration – Bench Play Time

Copper and Glass Bead Shelf Pendant

Copper and Glass Bead Shelf Pendant With a Sterling Silver Chain

I love the Internet. When I’m feeling stuck, creatively, I can go on Pinterest and see all kinds of wonderful images that get me freshly inspired.

Lately I’ve been seeing a LOT of pictures of work by Mary Hettmansperger. I love the way she uses simple techniques to make gorgeous one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. Her work really appeals to me visually and artistically.

So I did some digging online, and found several of her books on the used book market. I got 3 of them and have begun working my way through her projects – taking her techniques and making them mine. My last couple of posts about Fooling Around with Copper were about some of this work.

My only challenge, if you will, is that she uses commercial chains for her pendants and I prefer to make my own. Some of her designs don’t lend themselves well to the thicker nature of handmade chains, so I’m having to figure out how *I* want to do them.

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More Fun With Copper

These are both copper. The round piece was torched, high oxygen, then soaked in hot vinegar. The other piece was previously etched with ferric chloride, then lightly salted & subjected to ammonia fumes to produce the blue patina.

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Fooling Around with Copper

I’m working with copper a lot these days. It’s beautiful in its own right and has really interesting properties.

Today, for example, I worked on the components for a pair of earrings. I’ve been reading up on ways to put patinas on metal. I have a little booklet by Charles Lewton-Brain, Patinas For Small Studios, that has tons of cool ideas. Including, for dual-gas torches, heating copper with the oxygen level boosted higher than usual. Oh, mama, did that ever work! That is the only thing I did to these strips of copper, & check out those lovely blues and purples.

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Moonstones and Silver

These earrings are my latest creations! The setting is embellished with stamping and sterling wire.

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The Beauty of Fractals

I am knitting a shawl for my sister out of some of my fractal-spun yarn. This is the teal and rust yarn that I spun last summer, described in post One Fractal Down, on to the Next (This would be “the next”). As as side note, this yarn won first place in the “Plied Yarn” category in this year’s SC State Fair!!!

But the real secret to fractal yarn is how it comes out when you knit it. The way the colors progress is always a revelation, and beautiful.

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Copper and Gratitude

It seems like this year is just flying by. All kinds of wonderful things have been happening lately, including winning two First Place awards at the SC State Fair for handspun yarn. More about that in an upcoming post!

What I’m focusing on right now is getting back into the world of street fairs and art shows with my jewelry work. It’s been a long time! I’m taking part in the upcoming Pecan Festival in Florence, SC, sharing a booth with other members of my fiber guild. I have put together a list of items I want to have ready to sell, and I’ve been busy at my bench. One of these days I’ll put together a gallery page, or at the very least, I’ll do another post with more pictures of other items.

Today I completed this pendant made with torched copper, Mother of Pearl, and poppy jasper. There were some different kinds of challenges getting it together! I had to reflect on the things – tools and supplies and skills – that made it possible, and feel grateful for them all. Including a disk cutter set, dapping block, draw plate for wire, 4mm poppy jasper beads, and a bead reamer to make them fit on the drawn-down wire. And the experience and patience to keep breathing and keep trying until I got it the way I want it.

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MD51 Halfway Through

Today I start the second half of my 100 Days of Metal commitment. I haven’t been keeping up with my blog, but I have been at my bench every day. So it’s working!

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve finished 3 bracelets, started a fourth, & read more in my book on hinges & clasps.

Yesterday I pulled out a number of pieces I made years ago for inspiration and, in some cases, refurbishing. It was exciting and really fun to go through them.

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MD38 More Chains & a Goal

Today I started another Byzantine chain. I have set a goal to build an inventory of bracelets. Byzantine, Columbus, Foxtail, and Double-loop-in-loop. Two of each, one for a slender wrist and one for a “normal” wrist ; these two sizes are a half-inch different.

I also read the chapter on hinges in Metalsmith’s Book of Boxes & Lockets by Tim McCreight. This is an excellent book, with clear text and step by step instructions and pictures. I don’t think it’s in print anymore, because the hardcopy version now lists for about $100 and I bought it years ago for $29.99. But the link I provided is to the ebook which is $9.99 for those who are interested.

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MD37 Exciting Day!

Today I wore my new Columbus Chain bracelet to my Fiber Guild meeting so I could show it off, and a woman there bought it right off my wrist!

I hadn’t intended to sell it, but when opportunity knocks, it’s crazy to say no. After all, I can make myself another one.

And when I came home, I made more links so I can do just that.

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One Fractal Down, on to the Next

When I started the Apples fractal project, I chose to make the yarn end up as a two-ply lace weight yarn. I have a lot of knitting patterns for lace weight yarn, and merino fiber is a really lovely fiber to work with. The sneaky lesson waiting for me was how much longer it takes to do lace weight as opposed to what I normally spin, which is fingering or sock weight two-ply. As you would expect, the thinner the yarn, the longer it takes to spin and ply. Combine that with a move and a thousand other things suddenly taking my attention, and what I could have accomplished in one month ended up taking more like four. Nevertheless, it’s finally done, and I’m very happy with the final yarn.

What’s next, you ask? Wellllllll…… I have another braid of the same merino, dyed in a different (and lovelier) colorway. I’m in the groove of spinning this particular fiber the way I want it, and that’s no small thing. So I decided to just keep on keeping on, and give a nod and a promise to all the OTHER lovely fiber that’s waiting for me.

I’m doing this one as a fractal project, too – the dye pattern is different from the first one and I’m interested to see how it comes out.

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